Overnight Jobs and the Affect on Your Health
Researchers have long linked weight gain, thyroid disease, heart problems, drowsiness, high blood pressure, anxiety, depression, gastrointestinal disorders, marriage issues, sleep disorders, diabetes, fatigue, reproductive problems, increase in on-the-job accidents and cancer to working at night. People who work the graveyard shift for extreme periods such as 20 years report extreme health issues. The theory was that night workers just had unhealthy eating and sleeping habits. Now scientists think that there is another reason.
When our biological clock is disrupted, our hormones such as Leptin and Cortisol are also disrupted. Our bodies expect to perform activities at certain points of the day. These biological activities will not operate correctly if the signals are wrong.
The most disruption to our biological clocks occur when the shift schedule is constantly changing or if the worker returns to a regular day/night schedule on days off. A more regular work schedule leads to better health, even if it is overnight.
People, who work the 2nd shift, seem to have less health problems than people who work from evening until morning, when the body expects to be sleeping.
Not everyone who works on the graveyard shift has problems adjusting. There are those who are night owls and do not do well on morning shifts. Age, personality, gender, and domestic responsibilities also play a factor in how well someone fairs working at night. We are fortunate for those who can and do work overnight in jobs such as law enforcement, healthcare, fire emergency, and transportation. Generally speaking, however, to avoid deleterious effects, workers should avoid the overnight shift. If they cannot, they should try to gain consistent sleep and work schedules. People who do experience health problems seem to get better when they quit the overnight job.